Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Oh no... how do I plan a family trip to Croatia? (Dubrovnik area) 7 days

Oh no... how do I plan a family trip to Croatia? (Dubrovnik area) 7 days

Jan 23rd, 2008, 06:55 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 206
Oh no... how do I plan a family trip to Croatia? (Dubrovnik area) 7 days

Fodorites, I need your help again!

I've traveled extensively all over Europe and spent a week in Croatia a couple years ago and it looks as though I've got my mother and sister on board for a week in Dubrovnik over spring break (March 19-27th... give or take a couple days)... and I have a few questions about what to expect and how I should do things differently with my parents. My father is on the fence right now about coming and it's always harder to get him places because he is a big guy and would likely either need 2 seats on an airplane or a 1st class ticket (which seems to be ridiculously expensive)

My parents aren't really big travelers and I'm feeling like this might be my one chance to "hook them" on traveling. It doesn't take very much to catch the traveling bug as I'm sure you all know

So I'd like to be extra careful to make sure that this trip goes smoothly. I realize that Dubrovnik will probably hover around 50F degrees, and the water will still be freezing, so I don't really have nice warm weather on my side, however I don't think the weather will be bad in late march? ...Especially coming from Oregon where it is 14 degrees at the moment.

So what measures should I take to make sure a trip goes well for my parents and that they have a great time in Dubrovnik? I'm able to have fun in any circumstance and revel at the chance to stay in crappy hostels, but I think I better actually find a decent hotel with a good warm shower, instead of taking my usual 15 dollars a night path.

Are all the steps in old town going to kill my overweight father who has bad knees? What other activities should I plan? I thought perhaps a boat ride to one of the nearby islands?

Are any boats running this time of year from Dubrovnik to Hvar or Korcula? Or what other island should I look into?

My mother says she wants to see "cute countryside villages" haha. I think she would love Venice but we'd never have time to make it there.

My dad, on the other hand, might like renting a car and going for a big long drive through the country. Is that a possibility from Dubrovnik? If you were in my place would you want to drive north toward Split? Or maybe south into Montenegro? I've heard that Montenegro is great but the little coastal towns aren't much to write home about. Or how about into Bosnia?

Right now I'm leaning towards spending a few days in Dubrovnik because I believe that's all it's really going to require to see what we need to see there... and then hopping on a boat and heading out to whatever island everyone thinks would be the best for that time of year. And then driving somewhere from Dubrovnik would be my second choice.

What are your thoughts? I'd love to hear anything and everything people could suggest. I realize that these date are a little before the tourist season really gets going here so I have to take that into account.

Thanks Fodorites! =)
TylerTraveler is offline  
Jan 24th, 2008, 12:17 AM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 946
I loved Dubrovnik and Croatia, but I don't think seeing it in March will turn your parents into travelers, sorry.

An older, over weight American with bad knees problably does little walking and Europe is filled with walking....TONS of it to do anything.

Yes the hard limestone and all the stairs in Dubrovnik will get to him. There is usually no place to sit in the old town accept restaurants. It is a small town, but older Americans are really not used to walking at all.

I am overweight and have bad knees, but I am really motivated to see things. We had older family here and could not believe how little they could walk without being in pain. I had told them to start walking before coming, but of course they did not do that and your dad probably won't either.

You will probably have to gear your trip to lots more driving with lots of stops at restaurants or for a coffee or beer etc.

The 3 island boat tours might be nice if they are running then from Dubrovnik. Kotor is a good idea for a day trip.

Maybe take the ferry to Korcula and Hvar or drive to Split/Trogir or back, so they can enjoy the beauty of the countryside while comfortably in the car.

Rovinj and the Istria hill towns are wonderful and probably please your mom.

The wall in Dubrovnik is wonderful and there are some places to sit, but it will be hard on your dad. One look at all the stairs and he might not want to bother.

The weather will probably be so bad, that I would consider southern Spain or Portugal instead where you have a better chance of having lots of sun and warmth which tends to make travel much easier, especially to the resistant traveler. Still you will need to find ways around the walking issue.

I am a slow walker who deals with a lot of pain, and our older guests made me look like speedy gonzales. So keep that in mind.
WTnow is offline  
Jan 24th, 2008, 01:27 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 206
Thank you so so much for the great (if not slightly depressing) reply WTnow! haha.... Yea... I'm afraid this might not be the ideal circumstances to "hook them".

You really think the weather will be that bad? I'm hoping for weather upwards of 60... and where we are from it's about 16, so I'm thinking that it's at least going to "feel" warm haha.

Honestly I'm almost hoping my dad decides not to come in case it's not the ideal Europe trip for him... I'd rather his one trip there (and my one chance to hook him) be one that does manage to hook him. I'd hate to blow it on a rainy mini-holiday. Europe isn't as conducive to overweight people as America is haha.

I am actually leaning towards pushing for a boat trip to Korcula and Hvar... I've never been there but I've heard good things. And I think the boat schedule will work out in our favor. Will Hvar still be fun if we go there in late March? I imagine that beaches won't be too much fun so we need other things to see and explore.

I think it's about time to move to a place where it's summer all year haha
TylerTraveler is offline  
Jan 24th, 2008, 02:39 AM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 946
Sorry, to be a little depressing, but I think it is good to have a realistic approach to things.

You never know with weather, I suppose you could luck out with some great weather. Look at what the weather is there over the years to get some idea.

We did see a BIG change between August and September....it was instananeously fall from summer and stayed that way until we left. NO rain in August, but some rain in September and much cooler weather in September. That is what makes me guess that March might be cool, rainy and windy.

Even in southern Spain late last April ( Holy week) we ran into some of the coldest weather we experienced all winter in Andalucia ( and southern Spain is MUCH further south). That said we lucked out with pretty decent weather with family in March in the same places.

If your father does not go, I think it will be easier on you. Pick an ideal season and place for him if you want to hook him.

You will have to talk to others who have been there in March and see what their experiences were. My experience of enjoying Croatia was from a summer,early fall perspective, so it is hard to imagine it in March.

I went to a dentist in Dubrovnik and we asked what it was like in the winter and she said ...boring. BUt then she is a native and not a tourist. At least you should not have crowds.
WTnow is offline  
Jan 24th, 2008, 02:54 AM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 946
Keep in mind too if your father goes that the ferries to Korcula and Hvar will be as much challenge as the airplane seats.

Most everything in Europe is made for small people and that will be an added challenge.....not just on the plane over.

If one is thin and small, you do not notice these things...but I am not, so I know those challenges as well as mobility challenges.

I can sit in a small seat even in budget airlines, if he can not, things will be a greater challenge.

The seats on the ferries are small and most do not lift up.

stairs in Dubrovnik ( and Hvar and Korcula etc) tend to be very steep and often do not have hand rails.

I find my way around all limitations because I want to, but we found it can really get challenging for some older Americans ( who are not used to European travel) to be so far out of thier comfort zones.

They can get very frustrated with all the differences and you will need to baby them. We had to change lots of things and I knew this going into it. They find it harder to adapt ( and we had no one with weight problems except me & I am in good shape for my size since I always exercise daily).

That is why so many old folks do the cruises and many do not see much either. Good luck with your challenges...You can still find a way to make it work.
WTnow is offline  
Jan 24th, 2008, 03:08 AM
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 10,168
Nobody says you have to walk the walls to have a good time in Dubrovnik. If you get that newly remodeled hotel just outside the northern gates (Sorry, I am blanking, maybe a Hilton) he won't have to do any climbing, and there are plenty of things to do on the main drag (pharmacy-monastery, war museum, other museums, churches, hanging out) or down by the port at the other end of the Stari Grad. Tell him that Croatian women are the best looking in the world. He can watch them while you shop.

I don't have time to look up one of the European weather sites right now, but highs this week (late January) are in the mid-50's F, so unless you get a Bura, you ought to do alright in March.

Still, I would not recommend a boat trip to Cavtat at that time of year, though a car expedition would be fine.

A day trip (tour bus) to Montenegro is a great idea and your information about Kotor is wrong -- it is spectacular and quaint as all get out. It is just some of the areas you pass through while getting there that are less than scenic -- though still interesting.
Ackislander is offline  
Jan 24th, 2008, 06:30 AM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 946
We spent a month in Dubrovnik and over 45 days in Croatia and one of the best things there was the walk on the Dubrovnik wall. It would really be a shame to miss it.

Unless you have bad knees I don't think you can understand how hard even the main drag is for someone dealing with this problem.

EVERTHING in Europe is small and for a man that needs two seats in an airplane and has bad knees, that will be a constant challenge.

Yes you can stop and get a drink or a bite to eat between seeing things, but that is the only place to sit pretty much ( other than possibly fountain and in park which are both just at the beginning).

Every shower is annoying to most Americans ( not use to travel in Europe) even in the most expensive places and that will challenge him. Water tends to get all over the floor even in brand new top of the line, 5 star places.

If he needs to go to the bathroom when you are out walking, that will be a challenge. It seems that every bathroom in Europe is down several flights of stairs usually with no hand rail. Most of the bathrooms are the tiniest nightmares that are about the right size for a 2 year old. So going the bathroom will be a challenge for him if he can even get into some of those tiny rooms.

If he is tall besides being hefty, he will have more challenges. I am only 5 foot 8 , but even park benches are waaaaaay to low for me and things like kitchen counters in brand new places.

All I am saying is if you take your dad, take all these things into consideration. Some one who is 5 ft 2, 130 lbs, in great shape who can do endless walking and standing & is use to Europe, will have a very different experience than someone who is hefty and tall with bad knees.

Just as chicago can go between a snow storm and spring like day in the winter, you will find the same in Europe. Weather is hard to predict. Just because there is a little reprieve in Northern Europe this week, does not mean it will be great in March. Just because it might have been great in March last year, does not guarantee that you will have sun and no rain this year.

Hopefully you will get lucky and have lots of good weather ( as we did in early September ...although there were also lots of rain storms and wind when we were there). But it could also rain every day and be cold. Just be prepared for it all. Dubrovnik is at least as far south as you can get practically in Croatia.

I lived one year in nearby Italy and the winter was so bad ( endless dark dreary rain and over cast skies) that I will never ever do that again. Most of the expats here talk about similar winters in thier native European countries. Hopefully, you will be lucky, but there is a reason why the season starts a little later.

WTnow is offline  
Jan 24th, 2008, 07:02 AM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 2,974
You can't predict the weather. After 2 May visits of absolutely idyllic weather, last year I was there during a week of storms. (But last year it was in the 50s and rainy that week--www.wunderground.com.)
I agree it does not sound like your Dad is going to enjoy this, and his physical limitations may prevent it if his attitude doesn't.
However, if he wants to go, there are two fantastic drives:
1.) the drive south along the Bay of Kotor in Montenegro (several cute towns) and maybe inland Mont. for more mountains.
2.) the drive north through the Peljesac peninsula, especially if your parents like seafood. Maybe visit a vineyard. Think mainland versus islands (due to weather and ferry schedules).

If you plan carefully, you can maximize short stops and minimize walking. Heck, sitting in a cafe for hours on end is the national pasttime!

Also, rent a great apartment with a view that is not up a lot of steps.

Good luck, it is a commendable effort. My parents don't travel either, and I know they would love it if they could make it there.
yorkshire is offline  
Jan 24th, 2008, 08:36 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 206
Wow thanks so much WTnow, askislander, and yorkshire!! =)

I hadn't thought about the seats on a ferry being small. Wow, those are things you just DO NOT think about when you are traveling if you aren't overweight. I'm 165 pounds, 6 foot tall and never once noticed anything being small. Everything fit me great in Europe haha. Of course I did remember thinking multiple times, in many various countries, how inaccessable things would have been for handicap people or overwieght people.

So if we can find some quaint little village towns are cities withing a day's driving distance from Dubrovnik maybe that would be the way to go instead of the ferries?

As far as the weather goes, I was there in the first week of April and I remember it being nice. Of course you are right that it's impossible to predict the weather... I've seen 70 degree weather where I live in March, and snow in July. I'm not that worried about it, you just kind of have to take what's given to you... and I know that it will be warmer than home haha =)

I think that if you make it to Dubrovnik, not seeing the walls would be a huge injustice even for an overweight person... I'm sure that he would make the climb. If you were going to climb any 200 stairs in the next 5 years... those are definitely 200 of the best! =)

On one hand I almost hope he doesn't decide to come that way just my sister and mother (who is extremely capable) can have everything opened up to us. I think I'll be able to focus better on giving my mother a great trip that way. Trying to give someone that "perfect trip" to get them on board with traveling can be a lot of pressure haha But I know how important that first impression can be. I think that's what's wrong with so many American travelers is that their first stop out of the country is Tijuana, and then it's gross and terrible, and then they "hate leaving the country" and never give it another shot.

Thanks for all of the tips on places to drive to just outside of Dubrovnik. I really think that might be the way to go if my dad decides to come. If not then I'll have some more options.

Thanks again!! =)


TylerTraveler is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 01:46 AM.